By Sue Kiesewetter
TRENTON - Every time Steve Channell walks into the lobby of Edgewood High School's new field house, he grabs a bottle of solution and cleans the big blue E in the floor tile.
Channell, athletic director and head football coach for the Cougars, is proud of the 10,000-square-foot concrete building that houses two locker rooms with showers, a weight room, training room, storage, coaches' offices, team room with a small kitchenette, concession stand and restrooms.
"It's kind of like a second home," said Derek Melton, 16, a defensive end. "Not too many teams have everything in it like ours does. It makes for a better athlete."
The field house sits at the far southwest corner of Kumler Field near the boys baseball and girls' softball fields. The coach's office overlooks the football field.
The field house has been in the works since Channell sketched out his dream field house at a December 1997 planning meeting. Valued at about $1 million, the structure was built for about $350,000 from donations of cash, materials and labor of many athletes, parents and community members, including the Pee Wee football organization.
Construction began in the spring of 2000 and was completed last month.
"It's been three years in the making," said Terry Schanke, an assistant coach. "It's like having a kid grow up. We've seen it from its start to finish."
Portraits of every football team since the school's 1970 opening line the walls. Aerial shots of games and fans have been blown up and framed. A big-screen TV is used to watch game tapes.
And each football player has his own Cougar-blue locker complete with nameplate made by the Warren County Correctional Institution's metal shop. Channell has even mounted a jersey from the first team in his office.
"I would love to run out of space on the walls" for honors, Channell says of his football team, which has been in the state playoffs each of the last six years.
Because many of the players or their parents helped install lockers, painted walls or helped in other ways, there is a feeling of ownership and pride.
"We know it's ours. We respect it," said senior tackle Kyle Turner. "It's awesome."
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